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Train work disturbs Greek Jewish cemetery

Work on a new underground train line could disturb what remains of a historic Greek Jewish cemetery.

 

The excavation in Salonika could move graves and human remains, the AFP news agency reported. Excavation near the Aristotelio University library, built on the cemetery site during an expansion in the 1960s, already has dug up gravestones.

 

The issue became public last week when U.S. special envoy for Holocaust issues, Ambassador J. Christian Kennedy visited Greece to attend a conference on the matter, and the Greek Jewish community raised the issue.

 

The cemetery dates back to 1492 when Spain expelled its Jews and 20,000 of them found refuge in the small Greek town of Salonika which then had 2,000 inhabitants. It was one of Europe’s largest, with more than 300,000 graves, when it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1942.

 

Salonika, which now has a Jewish population of 6,000 among its nearly 364,000 residents, was home to about 50,000 Sephardim before the Holocaust. Most were killed by the Nazis.

 

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